July 2, 1937pilot Amelia Earhart He was trying to become the first person to fly around the world over the equator when his runway mysteriously disappeared into the waters of the Pacific Ocean. He sent his last message to the US Coast Guard Itasca at 21:30 GMT. He warned that he was running out of fuel and that he was starting to have problems. Nothing more was known. It is still not known exactly where he could have crashed, and his plane has not been recovered. However, some remains have been found that may be related to him. This in itself is interesting. But even more so if we take into account that the analysis of one of these fragments can help in the fight against infection in a very interesting way. microplastic.

The problem is that these small pieces of plastic it’s more than familiar. They reach the ocean, accumulating in the body of the animals living in it. This is a problem because they are toxic to them. But also because from there they return to us through the consumption of products such as fish or salt. Microplastic residues have been found in liquids such as blood or breast milk. Also in the lungs. And, going back to the water, they have been found in places as remote as the snows of the Arctic.

Finding ways to prevent them from entering the sea is important, and this is where finding Amelia Earhart comes into play, as a team of scientists from University of Pennsylvania used a mysterious fragment that may have belonged to his plane to test a new technology that could help detect microplastics in sand with high efficiency.

Metal fragment to reconstruct the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

In 1991 International Historic Aircraft Restoration Group searched the neighborhood. Nikumaroro Islandwest of the Pacific when he came across a metal fragment that caught his attention.

They knew that Amelia Earhart’s ship might have been among the missing ships in the area. So looking at some rivets similar to those seen in the images of the plane in which he disappeared, they knew they were holding something very important. Unfortunately, it was not possible to prove that it was he. Lockheed Electra American adventurer, so that the metal plate has sunk into oblivion. Until now.

Soren Funk (Unsplash)

Association with microplastics

Daniel Beck, Engineering Program Manager at Pennsylvania State Center for Radiation Science and Engineering (RSEC)I watched a documentary about National Geography about searching for Amelia Earhart when she received a big revelation. At that time, he and his team were starting to test Breezil Reactordevice that performs neutron x-rays. This method allows you to distinguish some elements from others, but not unlike density-based X-rays. In reality, the neutrons pass through the heavier particles and interact with the nuclei of some of the lighter particles in the sample.

Beck thought this could be used to analyze an aircraft fragment for traces of material that would not be detected by conventional methods. For this reason, they contacted the team that found him in 1991 and asked for his research. They had no qualms about making it available, so these scientists soon got their hands on what could be one of the pieces. the mystery of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

As they predicted, by subjecting it to a neutron study, they were able to see some traces of paintpossibly from the original manufacturer. So far it has not been possible to demonstrate which manufacturer it was, but the path to finding it is much more beaten.

His true mission

It was a great rehearsal of the true purpose of this team, which had already begun to explore sand samples in search of microplastics. It is very difficult to distinguish one particle from another. However, while sand doesn’t show up in neutron X-rays, microplastics do show up “like Christmas lights,” according to Beck.

This is very useful, not for detect microplastics, but to distinguish where they are not. Thus, it is possible to measure the effectiveness of some filters aimed at reducing the release of this type of particles into the sea.

So far, these scientists have presented their results at International Atomic Energy Agency Conference on Applications of Radiation Science and Technology. Preliminary results were pretty good. And all thanks to the first test with such a mysterious material as that metal sheet, which could be part of a plane that one day disappeared forever in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Source: Hiper Textual

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